The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1)
Rachel Joyce

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him – allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1) book cover

Many, many of my reads are escapes: into futuristic, science-fiction worlds, others medieval fantasies, or the rest, anything in between. But then there are books that have such a powerful, real, tangible quality of humanness about them that I can’t help but love them.
Ben Elton’s Time and Time Again, Jo Walton’s My real Children, Gavin Extence’s The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, Mark Watson’s Eleven, all of these hit that unnameable elusive spot which in some cases makes you feel good and warm about the world and in others moves you to tears. This pilgrimage did that to me, with an impact most poignant, characters so genuine and reality so actual that you can feel it because it so really applies to you. I can’t put this book out to the lovers of fantasy, of spaceships, of spies or of assassins. But I enjoyed it most profoundly.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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